Her Stories (Part 2)

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The 96th Test Wing spotlights five women Airmen working in predominantly male career fields in a series of three portraits over three days.  This series is in conjunction with the upcoming Women's Equality Day Aug. 26. 2023  These five women represent firefighters, security forces and explosive ordnance disposal.


Name, Rank, Title: Staff Sgt. Alexis Schmitt, Military Working Dog handler

Hometown, State: Chicago, Illinois

Why did you join the Air Force? I joined the Air Force for the education and travel benefits, but to also create a stable foundation at a young age.

What made you choose being a dog handler in Security Forces? I chose Security Forces so I could become a Military Working Dog Handler and have one of the most rewarding jobs in the Air Force with the best four-legged defender by my side.

What is your favorite part of the job? My favorite part of the job is traveling to new cities and countries, with my dog by my side, in support of the Secret Service. Every mission we go on, I am constantly reminded that I entrust my life and those around me to my dog. The bond I have with my dog is like no other and is the most favored part of the job.

What’s the most challenging part of the job? The most challenging part of the job is the constant reminder of the important impact that my job has on those I am protecting. If I have to truly do my job, it is a bad day for those around me. This job is very physically and mentally demanding but pushes us as handlers to not be afraid to go down a path alone and become comfortable being uncomfortable.

Any comments or advice about being a woman in a male-dominated field? My advice is to become a master of your craft because knowledge is a power that no one can take from you. 9 times out of 10, I am the only female on a mission with my dog, so I automatically stand out from others. Being the ‘only’ in the room can feel discouraging and uncomfortable at times, but remember that you are an asset and someone who brings value to the table. Do not limit yourself to the expectations of others because of your gender. By staying true to your vision, you’ll achieve success on your own terms, regardless of the environment you find yourself in. Become a credible, indispensable, master of your craft.

Any advice for young women/girls who are interested in fire and/or a male-dominated field? When it comes to your career, only you can decide what your limitations and expectations are. Security Forces, just like any other career field, is what you make of it. If you can figure out what your personal mission is and commit to diligently pursue that – it won’t matter what everybody else is doing. Stay true to your values and chart your own course in the career you choose. When you strive to make your dreams come true, especially if it’s unconventional, you will inevitably stand out among your peers. Always strive to be better than who you were yesterday and you’ll reap the benefits of success.

Please visit Aug. 25 to see more of Her Stories.